Comcast, you may not care but you are about to lose another customer

I have had no internets at home since about 7 PM last night (Thu) and the soonest a technician can come is Tuesday. FIVE days is completely unacceptable!

Last night we had a lovely Spring storm in which it was raining so hard that I could not hear the movie I was trying to watch. So I stopped the movie and went over to do some of the emailing that I really ought to have been doing.

About 2 minutes after I sat down there was a very loud POP! from outside. My first thought was that it was the power transformer but I still had lights. All of my equipment is on UPSs so the computers and the stereo would remain on. [All of you "locals" please tell me your equipment is protected!] A second or two later up popped the “Local connection disconnected” dialog box on the PC. Damn!

So I went off to do something else and when the (first) storm passed I went and finished the movie. Since I had seen no cable trucks show up I entertained myself in other ways with the hope it’d be back on by morning.

Got up this morning and no connection. Rebooted the modem to no avail. Same story when I got home this afternoon; so I called Comcast. “Dexter” tried to troubleshoot but to no avail. He eventually said he’d have to schedule a technician to come out.

His first offer was Tuesday from noon to 2 PM. OK. Tuesday? Not the slightest bit acceptable! And that time frame really sucks …

… because I was hoping to see a man about a job. The director of a library to which I’m considering applying just happens to be coming to visit Tuesday. All of his scheduled appointment times are filled so my only hope was to see him at his open session. Guess when? Yep, noon – 1 PM.

Dexter offered to find another time and came back a minute later. “How about the 1st from 8 AM – 2 PM?” Well now, Dexter, the 1st also happens to be Tuesday and you have now increased the time range. Thanks!

When I complained about paying for a “service” which I am not getting he kindly let me know that I would be credited on my bill after the problem is fixed. I do appreciate that. But that still helps not one bit with the fact that I need the Internet to accomplish some of my professional responsibilities. Nor the fact the only possibility I have to get some firsthand info on a school I am not sure I want to apply to is probably out the window.

Comcast, you could be causing me to not get a job!

I already have had a “Welcome to Comcast” problem just recently. I also find it interesting that they actually responded after-the-fact when Jennifer had problems but did not do so for mine, which was a “live” issue.

There’s an awful lot of talk about so-called customer service and “experience lately” but I’m seeing neither here.

I do see an email address to the person who commented on Jennifer’s post but the way I see it I did my part. I called tech service, the guy tried and he needed to schedule a technician. That I can live with. The fact that I have to wait until Tuesday is what I cannot live with.

I could email this person and it might help. But I am not going to. I am going to wait and see if they contact me. If they don’t then once my cable is back up I will put some of my current projects on hold and as quickly as possible move off of Comcast. It will suck majorly as I have scores of various accounts that use that email address but I will make it happen.

Now the interesting bit is just how are they going to contact me. I don’t have any internet from home so sending an email or commenting on this post is nigh on useless. [I am currently at GSLIS where I had to drive to, pay for parking, and generally not be at home. Will Comcast reimburse me for any of this inconvenience, much less the massive inconvenience of having no Internet for 5 days?]

Just to make Comcast’s job of contacting me a bit easier, my name is Mark R. Lindner and I live on Green St. in Champaign, IL and my area code is 217.

As I said above, if they do not contact me and find some way to resolve this either sooner or recompense me to a tune better than the simple cost of 5 days worth of service I will be leaving Comcast.

GSLIS Publications digitally available to all

I wrote about this once before (last July) when it had begun but now the major announcement has gone out. If I hadn’t already known about it I would be downright giddy!

The University Library has digitized the following publication series from the Graduate School of Library and Information Science:

Allerton Park Institute Proceedings (1954-1997) [502 items]
Clinic on Library Applications of Data Processing (1963-1995) [473 items]
Occasional Papers (1949-2004) [209 items]

These publications are preserved in IDEALS (the Illinois Digital Environment for Access to Learning and Scholarship), a digital repository created and maintained by the University Library.

Visit the GSLIS publications “community” within IDEALS at: http://www.ideals.uiuc.edu/handle/2142/154

To track the addition of major collections to IDEALS, visit:
http://webtools.uiuc.edu/rssManager/imageList/961

A fair few issues of Library Trends are also available from that same link. It looks like volume 52(3):Winter 2004 – 56(3):Winter 2008 are currently available [263 items] with topics as diverse as the philosophy of information, LIS pioneers, organizational development and leadership, consumer health issues, children’s access and use of digital resources, research methods, GIS, and so on. Certainly a bit of something for everyone.

The quality of all the ones I have seen so far is incredible.

All in all there are already over 1400 items (article-level) available from these four titles.

I challenge anyone to have a look around and then try and tell me they can’t find something of quality to read in our literature.

And for those of you who know my love for print I will reproduce my response to my friend Jenny who asked why I was so excited since I can see them all in the library that is literally on top of me, one floor up:

Hey jenny. Very true about the cataloging records for the Allerton stuff (sure wish I could fix it!).

Very valid question you ask. I do generally prefer to have something in print that I can read and I love seeing these things in their original manifestations, but …

My main reason for excitement is that others can access these wonderful sources, from near or far.

But some of *my* reasons follow:

1 If it is the library’s copy (or otherwise not mine) then I cannot highlight or write in it.

2 I cannot keep it for future consultation.

3 I am allergic to the condition many of these older items are in.

4 They are sometimes quite frail and even if in decent shape may not be after the gentlest of efforts at photocopying.

5 Having a pdf I can save and use it for a long time. I can print it and write/highlight all over it if I desire. And I have yet to find a pdf that I am allergic to.

6 I will have access if/when I am no longer present to use the physical items.

7 I can point people to them with more than a disembodied citation.

8 As much as I love the physical items, I, too, love the convenience of “immediate” electronic delivery for many and varied reasons.

9 I can find them despite the bad cataloging that exists for the physical items. While I often forget where I found some source on the web, I am fairly sure that I will remember where to find these as they are some of my favorite sources. I have also blogged about them and can just search my blog now if I forget the rest.

I could probably think up a few more reasons for myself or for others that are part of my excitement, but this is a great start.

Yes, I love the print and am so very grateful to be where I am and to have access to them, but I may not always have that access and I am allergic to much of the older materials; materials that I, in fact, value.

As long as I have a web connection I have access to the digital copies and once saved to my computer I have “perpetual” access to a copy of my own.

I hope this gave you some sense of why I am excited. :)

So please do yourself a favor and “check them out.”

Andrea Mercado and her Conversants article

This is going to be kind of weird but I don’t know what else to do. :(

Andrea Mercado of LibraryTechtonics has a new post, Article in Conversants. Recommended, by the way.

I read her post and then her article, Making library schools smarter. Conversants is using CommentPress which I am happy to see, but until I know whether I will read and comment regularly I really have no desire to set up yet another account. So I went back to Andrea’s post and attempted to make a comment there. Eventually I got a captcha but with no image. Seems to be a fairly frequent issue with some of those captcha plugins, unfortunately.

So I refreshed the page hoping to maybe luck out. No luck and it also told me I was submitting a duplicate comment. Huh? Did I or did I not succeed the 1st time? OK. She has an email contact form. Paste my comment in there, explain the situation and how I hope I’m not unknowingly overloading her and hit send.

Nope. That failed too.

Now, honestly, this comment is not that important. But I would like to talk with Andrea about her undergrad alma mater and I was hoping that email contact form would be my means of doing so.

I imagine there are lots of reasons these things could be failing me. OCLC and Voyager were certainly screwing with me enough today so maybe it is me. But some days I really despise the internet. You try and have a conversation and it does everything in its power to thwart you. Far too frequently.

Captchas that don’t load an image. Completely unreadable images in captchas. Requiring accounts at a million places. People with Blogger (or other) blogs that only allow those with Blogger/Google accounts to comment. And on and on ad infinitum.

All I can say is this internet thing is at about the level of an 18-month old in conversational skills right now.

Anyway, my comment is reproduced below with the hopes Andrea will see it and perhaps comment so I can get her email addy so I can have the real conversation I want to have. :)


Interesting article, Andrea. I wanted to comment over there but until I am sure I will read (and comment) there often I am NOT setting up another account.

In paragraph 7 you talk about tech skills which I can only assume you mean should be had before entering school. How do you intend for schools to pragmatically assess such skills?

Here is a link to our admission requirements and also to those intended to be acquired before leaving:
http://www.lis.uiuc.edu/admissions/requirements/tech.html

By the way, these are being upgraded from the pathetic state they are in right now (floppy disk, anyone?). But they are in no way checked as neither are the ones “expected to be acquired during your time at GSLIS” so I am unsure what purpose they really serve.

I do agree that these are important and that something needs to be done. But how is that to be accomplished? Are we going to require potential students to show up on campus prior to final submission of the application process for an interview? Or are we going to do like some of the preppier schools my boy applied to and have an alum out in the “local” community (perhaps 100s of miles away in reality) do the interviewing? That could be a long, slow process until we get enough qualified alums to do the interviewing.

While both of these might, in fact, be feasible I do not really seeing the schools implementing either.

Any thoughts? Thanks for the link to the article and the journal.

… and number one is fleshing out these dreams of mine.

Atlanta’s a distant memory
Montgomery a recent blur
and Tulsa burns on the desert floor
like a signal fire

I got Willie on the radio
a dozen things on my mind
and number one is fleshing out
these dreams of mine

Cowboy Junkies — 200 More Miles

A little over a week ago I wrote to a handful of those I consider myself close to to tell them of a recent decision of mine. It was quite gratifying and reaffirming to hear back from many of them over the next couple of days, and by a half dozen of them within an hour of sending them my message! My friends are amazing!

Those locally I have been trying to catch up with personally, although I have missed a couple due to Spring Break happening this past week. [Sara, I've been looking for you.]

Perhaps, though, I should start at something like the beginning.

I have been at this university education thing for a very long time. For the last ten and a half years I have been at it mostly full-time. All the while I have been employed at least half-time and often more. There was a 3-year period, sort of in the middle, where I worked full-time and went to school half-time for the fun of it … and because the university paid for it, I was able to take classes with people I really cared to learn from, and it kept my loans in deferment.

I have actually been in and out of the higher ed classroom for far longer seeing as I entered Illinois State in 1998 with 118 hours of accepted transfer credit (90 of which I could apply) accumulated during my time in the Army.

Over those 10+ years of mostly full-time schooling I have “progressed” in the ways in which I deal with the joys and stresses of the classroom and, even more so, with the kinds of work students are expected to generate so that their learning can be codified and graded. It started out being fairly difficult and while it (the product) always remained difficult to produce the ways in which it is difficult changed such that at some point the process actually became quite easy such that producing products which demonstrated my learning was easy. Difficult work, but easy nonetheless [I hope that makes some sense].

I seem to be long past that point anymore. I have loved my time at GSLIS for many reasons, but for a long time now I have been increasingly unhappy with the process of higher education. I have often complained of the semester system—here on this blog and elsewhere—and especially lately have complained of the need come the end of the semester to produce something which an instructor can grade. Have not my efforts to learn, to challenge myself, my classmates and the instructor already been amply demonstrated throughout the semester?

Simply put. I am burnt out.

This was to be my final semester and I was going to end it with a 3rd Mother’s Day graduation. My only real task was to write my CAS paper and defend. After consultation with my advisor, GSLIS admin, and my employer I have decided to put myself on a non-academic “sabbatical.” That is, I am taking an incomplete and doing other things for a while.

I shall not go into all of the details of the thought process or situation but the only negative thing that can honestly be said is that I won’t be “done” in May. Theoretically, I need to finish before the start of next Spring semester.

I am still working my 2 assistantships at 60% time. Thus, I haven’t really freed up much time. I will still attend the seminar on subject access/analysis, although I have unfortunately not been attending Allen’s ontologies class for several weeks now [Remember, I am just sitting in on these classes].

I m still applying for jobs although I am seeing very few that are appealing or which I feel qualified for. There are many other sorts of jobs I would consider but the ones in those lines of work (terminologies) which show up in the places I am looking seem to mostly be massively corporate or government, mostly defense.

Yes, I am applying for jobs. I have had an MLS for almost 2 years now. While I would have preferred to be finished with my CAS before taking a job there is really no reason to do so. As far along as I am now will only require me to come back—if I leave—for one day to defend; everything else can be done electronically.

My goal is to focus my energies elsewhere for a while—large portions of my life have been on hold for most of these past 10 years. What little time I gain by not actively working every free moment on my paper will be easily filled. I already have a list of projects, some major, and I haven’t even had to put any effort into identifying them.

I have finally figured out a system for organizing all those photocopied or printed out articles, book chapters, etc. that will work for me for now and which is flexible enough to grow and change with me and my interests. Many of you probably can’t even begin to imagine the amount of paper I have in folders, folders in boxes, and so on. Let’s just say that it is a lot. So I am entering them into Zotero, frequently backing up Zotero, and physically organizing them. Will I ever get finished? Not likely, no. But if I can get most of the important and more recent ones organized I will be happy.

I’d also like to try and fix many of the broken links in this blog that exist due to the migration from Typepad to my own domain. I haven’t started on that yet and I have concerns about how it might affect people’s feeds but we’ll just have to see. I doubt I can or even want to fix every link but there are quite a few I do want fixed.

Most all of my books now reside in my apartment and not in storage anymore so I would like to get more of them into my LibraryThing catalog.

I also still need to find an email and a feed reader solution to my current woes.

There are, of course, a million other things I could add; some more pressing than others. Asking someone out on a date is near the top of the list. Unfortunately, I know of no prospects at the moment. But perhaps a little more engagement with the wider world will present one. :)

Lest you think my CAS paper has evaporated, I can assure you that it has not. My plan is to primarily focus on other things for a while, perhaps even through summer. I am in the process of reading two books directly related to my topic but I have put them to the side for a bit. I hope to pick those up soon and work through them a bit more slowly than I have been. Basically, I have been cramming things into my mind non-stop since last May when I more or less came to my topic. No time to think, no time to muse, and certainly nothing approaching slow reading.

A short five years ago I was able to read DeLillo’s White Noise once and then produce a 14-page analysis of the lived morality as presented in the novel which actually impressed one of the professor’s I most admire in the world. Part of that may be due to lots of exposure to thinking about morality—both academically and as experienced in daily life—over the years. But part of it is where I was in my progress of academic productivity [pretty much in top form at that point].

My CAS paper has taken me into a realm where I have little formal education and where much lay thinking is mistaken due to two millennia of Western culture and education. Thus, I have had to work extra hard trying to come to grips with what I want to “produce.” Now that it is time to do so my mind has rebelled.

At first, when I floated the idea of perhaps delaying this a bit it was lovingly suggested that I “just do it” and then I could relax and follow this more where I want to take it as I further develop my research agenda [something I can actually say I have now]. I had to concur that that would be lovely. But I left that meeting feeling quite apprehensive. A week later when I went back to re-discuss my options it was readily agreed that my current plan is what is needed and it was immediately supported.

There are many reasons why the wise woman who is my advisor agreed a week later after trying to nudge me forward a week earlier. The reasons are no doubt complex, but when I asked her why she knew now that this was the right decision I was told that, “You turn gray. Today you aren’t gray and thus I know this is the right decision.” And here I always thought it was simply metaphor.

the sky is grey
the sand is grey
and the ocean is grey

and i feel right at home
in this stunning monochrome
alone in my way

ani difranco — grey — reckoning

This past Thursday when I told this story to one of my best friends ever—and my boss during what was probably the worst couple years of my life—she just looked at me funny for a few seconds. And then she said, “Of course you do!”

I guess all I can say is, “Here’s to learning to radiate all the colors of the spectrum!”

My intention regarding my paper is to distract my mind for a bit, dabble some directly on topic (soon), dabble on the periphery, let the mind do its own thing on its own time in the background, have conversations with others which will force me to be able to say what I want, and to finally get on it “full-time” come the start of the fall semester with the goal of defending at the end of fall.

I have received an enormous amount of support and validation from my advisor, other profs, GSLIS admin, the folks I work with at the Library, and especially from my friends and family. This, more than anything else, means the world to me. Thank you.

Sometimes I see myself fine, sometimes I need a witness.
And I like the whole truth,
but there are nights I only need forgiveness.
Sometimes they say, “I don’t know who you are
but let me walk with you some.”
And I say, “I am alone, that’s all,
you can’t save me from all the wrong I’ve done,”
But they’re waiting just the same,
With their flashlights and their semaphores,
And I act like I have faith and like that faith never ends
But I really just have friends.

Dar Williams — My Friends — End of the Summer

Some things read this week, 16 – 22 March 2008

All week

DeLillo, D. (1986). White noise, Contemporary American fiction., 326. New York: Penguin Books.

 

I didn’t say it. The computer did. The whole system says it. It’s what we call a massive data-base tally. Gladney, J. A. K. I punch in the name, the substance, the exposure time and then I tap into your computer history. Your genetics, your personals, your medicals, your psychologicals, your police-and-hospitals. It comes back pulsing stars. This doesn’t mean anything is going to happen as such, at least not today or tomorrow. It just means you are the sum total of your data. No man escapes that (141, emphasis mine).

 

They travel through the air. What like, birds? Why not tell them magic? They travel through the air in magic waves. What is a nucleotide? You don’t know do you? Yet these are the building blocks of life. What good is knowledge if it just floats in the air? It goes from computer to computer. It changes and grows every second of every day. But nobody actually knows anything (149, emphasis mine).

Swift, J. (1996). Gulliver’s travels (Unabridged [ed.].). Mineola N.Y.: Dover Publications.

 

My little Friend Grildrig; you have made the most admirable Panegyrick upon your Country. You have clearly proved that Ignorance, Idleness, and Vice are the proper Ingredients for qualifying a Legislator. That Laws are best explained, interpreted, and applied by those whose Interest and Abilities lie in perverting, confounding, and eluding them. I observe among you some Lines of an Institution, which in its Original might have been tolerable; but these half erased, and the rest wholly blurred and blotted by Corruptions. It doth not appear from all you have said, how any one Perfection is required towards the Procurement of any one Station among you; much less that Men are ennobled on Account of their Virtue, that Priests are advanced for their Piety or Learning, Soldiers for their Conduct or Valour, Judges for their Integrity, Senators for the Love of their Country, or Counsellors for their Wisdom. As for yourself (continued the King) who have spent the greatest Part of your Life in travelling; I am well disposed to hope you may hitherto have escaped many Vices of your Country. But, by what I have gathered from your own Relation, and the Answers I have with much Pains wringed and extorted from you; I cannot but conclude the Bulk of your Natives, to be the most pernicious Race of little odious Vermin that Nature ever suffered to crawl upon the Surface of the Earth (92-93).

Reading these two satires on the so-called civilized world and commentaries on the human condition at the same time is a most rewarding experience, despite the centuries that lie between them. While they may be addressing different aspects of these topics they are still highly complementary.

Tuesday, 18 Mar 2008

Shiga, J. (2007). Bookhunter, 1. Portland, Or.: Sparkplug Comic Books.

 

I don’t read many graphic novels but this was kind of cute. The idea of gun-toting, radioactive dye tracing, SWAT team-like book hunters is kind of funny.

 

Well, as long as one doesn’t dwell on it too much.

 

Highly recommended. Very fast read.

Wednesday – Saturday, 19 – 22 Mar 2008

 

Cataloging Policy and Support Office. March 15, 2007. Library of Congress Subject Headings. Pre- vs. Post-Coordination and Related Issues. Report for Beacher Wiggins, Acquisitions & Bibliographic Access Directorate, Library Services, Library of Congress.

 

Found at Cataloging Futures.

 

Saturday, 22 Mar 2008

 

The León manifesto. (2007)., Knowledge Organization, 34(1), 6-8.

 

Some things read this week, 9 – 15 March 2008

Sunday, 9 Mar 2008

Smith, L. C. (1981). ‘Memex’ as an image of potentiality in information retrieval research and development In , Proceedings of the 3rd annual ACM conference on Research and development in information retrieval (pp. 345-369). Cambridge, England: Butterworth & Co.

Linda cited this article when talking about her research on a panel discussion we had in our subject access/analysis seminar. Linda Smith, Dave Dubin, and Oksana Zavalina (Ph.D. student) were asked about how “subject” impacts on their research area(s). Oksana was representing the IMLS Digital Collections and Content team.

What modes of subject access they use. Search strategies. Changes they’d like to see. Search and navigation features needed. Differences between human and machine relevance assessments. Etc. We did not get to all of them, but did some interesting deviating from the ones presented to them. It was a nice discussion.

Below is what Linda wrote about her article on the handout she provided. We also discussed it some and this idea of “non-verbal representation of subjects” and “concept symbols” was intriguing.

Cited documents as concept symbols; most citations are the author’s own private symbols for certain ideas he uses; where documents are frequently cited, their use as concept symbols may be shared.

When I first finished it I was disappointed and did not think this is what the article really said, although these claims are made within. After a few days and making some of the known context explicit in my mind, I have relented.

It is interesting in other ways, too. And I have heard Linda mention this article a few other times; usually in the context of Bush, though.

Monday, 10 Mar 2008

Aitchison, J. (2003). Linguistics, Teach yourself. (6th ed), 257. Chicago, Ill: McGraw-Hill.

 

  • Ch. 16 : seeking a suitable framework
  • Ch. 17 : trouble with transformations
  • Ch. 18 : back to basics (Tue)
  • epilogue (Tue)
  • further reading (Tue)

 

Rosenberg, V. (1974). The scientific premises of information science, Journal of the American Society for Information Science, 25(4), 263-269.

 

Cited by Smith, L. C. (1981) [see above] as “… urges information science researchers to pay more attention to the social, cultural and spiritual aspects of human communication” (353).

 

 

Critiques what he calls the “gestalt of the computer.”

 

Most of the research done to date in information science has been done in what we can broadly call the tradition of Newtonian mechanics. In this tradition the world and man are perceived to be essentially mechanistic (264).

 

Because information science has been so closely linked to the computer, the device has thoroughly colored our view of what information is and how people use it. Broadly speaking, the computer has caused us to view human information processing as analogous to machine processing. The success of this approach is similar to that Kuhn describes with regard to obsolete paradigms (such as Newtonian mechanics) (264).

 

He combines these with a behaviorist psychology as “the basic components of the paradigm underlying information science” (265), which he then critiques.

 

I believe that the essentially reductionist view of man which emerges from the “gestalt of the computer,” is ultimately demeaning to man, is scientifically counter productive, and it is arrogant. Nevertheless, I am not suggesting that all the work that has been done in replicating human intellectual behavior using computers is of no practical value. … However, as a basic principle for understanding, scientifically understanding, the nature of information and its use, the paradigm is of extremely limited value (265-266).

 

Since I have just stated, with an overweening arrogance of my own, that the fundamental premises on which information science is currently based are all wrong, I must support this conclusion (266, emphasis mine).

 

The computer carries with it a set of values—scientific values. These values are basically deterministic, reductionist and mechanical. The paradigm specifically inhibits serious consideration of concepts that are social, cultural or spiritual (266).

 

The problem here is not the direct, tangible harm that the information system does to a specific individual. Rather it is the image of man inherent in it (267).

 

We must begin to pay more attention to the social, cultural and spiritual aspects of human communication [the point Linda cites]. We must recognize that what a man says or writes is not simply the additive sum of the phonemes or the morphemes, the words or sentences he utters. To deal effectively with the transcendent qualities of human communication we must admit as evidence the intuitive, the subjective, and the experiential (268).

 

I love this guy! And considering this was published in 1974 I love him even more. I think he is heading to the right point but he isn’t quite there yet. There simply is no communication without the experiential. To communicate is to experience.

 

Harris, R. (1996). Signs, language, and communication : integrational and segregational approaches. London; New York: Routledge.

  • Preface
  • Ch. 1 : The study of communication
  • Ch. 2 : Before communication

 

Tuesday – Wednesday, 11-12 Mar 2008

 

Park, J. (2007). Evolution of concept networks and implications for knowledge representation, Journal of Documentation, 63(6), 963-983. doi: 10.1108/00220410710836466.

 

Wednesday, 12 Mar 2008

 

 

Abel-Kops, C. P. (2008, January 1). “Just where’s the damn book?,” or, rediscovering the art of cataloging. Retrieved March 10, 2008, from http://eprints.rclis.org/archive/00012940/.

 

Saturday, 15 Mar 2008

 

DeLillo, D. (1986). White noise, Contemporary American fiction., 326. New York: Penguin Books.

 

It’s Spring Break so I began re-reading this.

The encounter put me in the mood to shop. … Babette and the kids followed me into the elevator, into the shops set along the tiers, through the emporiums and department stores, puzzled but excited by my desire to buy. When I could not decide between two shirts, they encouraged me to buy both. … They were my guide to endless well-being. … My family gloried in the event. I was one of them, shopping, at last. (DeLillo, 83).

I shopped for its own sake, looking and touching, inspecting merchandise I had no intention of buying, then buying it. … I began to grow in value and self-regard. I filled myself out, found new aspects of myself, located a person I’d forgotten existed (DeLillo, 84).

I adore this book. This is my first re-read after reading it once and then analyzing its lived morality in an academic essay. I am trying to read it slowly and savor it this time; there is something distinctly not slow about DeLillo’s prose in this work, though.

Some things read this week, 2 – 8 March 2008

Sunday, 2 Mar 2008

Toolan, M. J. (1996). Total speech: an integrational linguistic approach to language, Post-contemporary interventions., 337. Durham, N.C: Duke University Press.

  • Read Ch. 4: Further Principles of Integrational Linguistics, or, On Not Losing Sight of the Language User

 

Sunday – Friday, 2 – 7 Mar 2008

 

Aitchison, J. (2003). Linguistics, Teach yourself. (6th ed), 257. Chicago, Ill: McGraw-Hill.

  • Ch. 1: what is linguistics?
  • Ch. 2: what is language?
  • Ch. 3: the study of language (Mon)
  • Ch. 4: deciding where to begin (Mon)
  • Ch. 5: sound patterns (Mon)
  • Ch. 6: words and pieces of words (Tue)
  • Ch. 7: sentence patterns (Tue)
  • Ch. 8: meaning (Tue)
  • Ch. 9: using language (Wed)
  • Ch. 10: language and society (Wed)
  • Ch. 11: language and mind (Wed)
  • Ch. 12: language and style (Thu)
  • Ch. 13: language change (Thu-Fri)
  • Ch. 14: comparing languages (Fri)
  • Ch. 15: attitudes towards change (Fri)

This book is great fun. Not great fun as in to read it, but as in to make fun of it and to explicitly see how strictly orthodox and, thus, simplistic (and wrong) textbooks and textbook-like texts are as they follow the party line.

Here’s a nice absurdity:

In fact, it is quite impossible for anybody to form sentences and understand them unless they realize that each one has an inaudible, invisible structure, which cannot be discovered by mechanical means such as counting (20).

All I can say to that is “Seriously, what the hell!” So a 5-year-old child learning their native (or even a 2nd) language must “realize” that each sentence “has an inaudible, invisible structure” before they can form or understand any sentence in their language? What kind of idiot makes a claim like that?

Human bigotry gets us this comparison:

Human language is innately guided. Human infants are not born speaking, but they know how to acquire any language to which they are exposed. They are drawn towards the noises coming out of human mouths, and they instinctively know how to analyze speech sounds. Bees present a parallel case: they are not born equipped with an inbuilt encyclopedia of flowers. Instead, they are pre-programmed to pay attention to important flower characteristics … (21-22, emphasis mine).

Humans know, bees are programmed. What a crock! This may be the opposite of anthropomorphizing, but it is just as bad.

Thursday, 6 Mar 2008

Solomon, P. (2002). Discovering information in context, Annual Review of Information Science and Technology, 36(1), 229-264. Retrieved March 6, 2008, from http://dx.doi.org/10.1002/aris.1440360106.

Friday, 7 Mar 2008

Ellis, D. (1992). The physical and cognitive paradigms in information retrieval research, Journal of Documentation, 48(1), 45-64.

 

Saturday, 8 Mar 2008

Sundin, O., & Johannisson, J. (2005). The instrumentality of information needs and relevance. In F. Crestani & I. Ruthven (Eds.), Context: Nature, Impact, and Role: 5th International Conference on Conceptions of Library and Information Sciences, CoLIS 2005, Glasgow, UK, June 4-8, 2005 ; Proceedings, Lecture notes in computer science., 3507 (p. 250). Berlin: Springer.

Zotero presentation

Last Sunday, a friend of mine—Jodi Schneider (Science Library Specialist, Amherst College)—and I gave a presentation on Zotero: Manage Citations, Make Bibliographies & Join the Web of Data to the ASIST@UIUC Student Group. [LEEP On Campus Weekend was last week.]

We kept the presentation pretty low-key, not a lot of prep work—couple hours each. We made a single web page, which printed beautifully as a single double-sided page handout.

In an hour we covered some basics such as getting it installed, getting some citations in, getting citations out, that it integrates with word processors, how to back it up, and a bit about link resolvers. I think everyone in attendance had their own laptop and everyone jumped in and played.

I wasn’t as happy as I’d have liked to be with it when it was over, although I couldn’t say why. But. We have gotten a lot of nice feedback from those in attendance. Some was provided to both of us and much of it since Jodi went back home. I made sure to pass it on to her.

People have said they got what they wanted out of it. Sweet! [Luckily they were only looking for familiarity.]

It was also recorded (audio only) and will be available for those with GSLIS affiliation via the ASIST@UIUC Student Group web site.

In feed reader limbo

A couple of months ago it was announced that NetNewsWire was now free for individuals. I saw this news in a few places and read some high praise for it in those and other places. Having been fed up with the assorted problems Bloglines has been having for quite a while now, I decided to try NetNewsWire.

NetNewsWire seemed to fit my requirements quite well. I do not necessarily need a desktop client reader but neither am I averse to one as I have a laptop which goes lots of places with me. Also, NetNewsWire syncs with NewsGator, which is their web-based reader.

The export of my OPML file from Bloglines and import into NetNewsWire went flawlessly. I took a couple of days playing with NetNewsWire to decide if I liked it at all. Seeing as I did I turned on the syncing capability and logged into NewsGator and tested it. NewsGator is not what I would prefer for my standard reader but it seemed sufficient for those times when I would be checking my feeds from somewhere other than my laptop.

I was pretty much pleased with this setup and thus logged into Bloglines a few times just to clear the unread posts that were adding up. I still have around 5000 posts marked unread in Bloglines that either need weeded or posted to del.icio.us so I didn’t want to just dump it.

Of course, after two or so weeks of using NetNewsWire I had somewhere between 100-200 posts being kept alive until I decided what to do with them [I know, I know. I need to change my work habits!].

And then it happened.

NetNewsWire began crashing upon launch. Every. Time. It simply will not load. I’ve searched the support forums and have even re-installed it a few times and it simply will not load.

Thus, I’m now relying on NewsGator as my primary feed reader and that is simply not acceptable. It seems to be heavily AJAX-based (or something similar) and is, thus, slow. Once you click a post to mark it read you have to wait to do anything else. This is a several second wait. There are other reasons why it is unaccaptable as a primary feed reader but, for me, that is the main one.

So for several weeks now I have been struggling to engage in any successful manner with the blogosphere. I am, of course, keeping up with the blogs of people who are really important to me for assorted reasons (mostly friends) but I am only haphazardly able to keep up with my normal feed load.

To say the least I am extremely unhappy! On top of all the other uncertainty in my life this does not help.

After only a few days of using NetNewsWire I was looking forward to writing a post that said I had successfully found an alternative to the frustration of using Bloglines. Now I simply wish I had never changed.

I haven’t logged into Bloglines in a couple weeks now to clear out new unread stuff and I am scared to do so. Also, any posts I had marked to keep in NetNewsWire are unavailable to me. Thus, I’ve lost a couple weeks of engagement with friends and others where I have left a comment or something that I meant to get back to when I had time.

If anyone knows how to solve this problem of NetNewsWire’s crashing please pass along any help you can. If anyone has any suggestions for other feed readers I might try (on a Mac) because you use them and like them, please pass those along, too.